Toone family highlights from 2015
As we approach New Year’s Eve, I’m reminded of some great counsel once given me by a friend and mentor.
“While it’s a good thing to set goals for the new year, it’s also wise to look back at the previous year and remember what you have learned,” he said.
That resonated with me. I hope I remember what I learned so I don’t have to learn it again in the future. But in addition to the lessons, I enjoy looking back and recalling the highlights and memorable experiences. This is a list of some of the unforgettable times for our family in 2015.
Hands down, the biggest thing to happen to us this year started last February. The Richards family rented a mega-sized cabin at Bear Lake designed for large family gatherings. While we spent a few days there enjoying the area and good company, Lisa asked me if I thought the Deseret News might ever allow me to work a couple days a week from home? I had just hit the 5-year mark of my employment there and things were going well.
Possibly, I thought, but why?
She was thinking that if I didn’t have to commute to Salt Lake every day, then perhaps we could sell our home in Syracuse and move back to the Tremonton area to be closer to family and customize a house for long-term care of our special needs daughter.
We had occasionally talked about leaving Syracuse before but never really seriously. Things were fine in Syracuse. We had many friends and things were going well.
But as we considered the idea this time, the feeling was different. The more we talked about it and pondered the possibilities, the more realistic it felt and the more excited we became.
A short time later the Deseret News agreed to let me work from home two days a week. With that, more consideration and prayer, we ultimately decided to sell the house and take our talents back to Box Elder County.
Within 24 hours of posting our listing online, we had an offer we liked and eventually accepted. By April we moved to Riverside to live with Lisa’ family while building a home in Garland.
We closed on a construction loan in late June. The hole was dug on June 29. About 171 days/six months later on Dec. 16, we closed on the home. The next day we started moving in. It was a gloriously, happy day.
The process certainly wasn’t easy. There were obstacles along the way and plans rarely work out how you plan them. But we are grateful for those who helped us in any way to reach this goal. We love our new home and are happy to be back in our old familiar Garland neighborhood.
There are three noteworthy trips to mention.
Last June, we took a family road trip through central and southern Utah, which I blogged about upon our return.
In August, I returned to Camp Loll for the first time in almost 20 years. I wrote about that experience in this post.
And in November, Trevin and I traveled as far south as Mesquite, Nevada, as part of a Deseret News assignment in which I gathered information, photos and interviews for three different articles, including one about an SUU football player and a 107-year-old sweetheart.
Birthdays, plays and the nurse
In May, our oldest son Trevin turned 12 years old and was ordained a deacon. It’s been fun to help him with fast offerings and see him pass the sacrament. He has been able to perform baptisms for the dead in the Brigham City Temple and his very first mutual activity involved docking sheep. Now we need to get him going on his path to Eagle Scout.
Early in the year, I helped coach Trevin’s Syracuse city league basketball team. We went undefeated until losing the championship game in overtime. Trevin had a great season.
In July, both Trevin and Kalen participated in the Garland City community production, “The Music Man,” directed by Grandma Connie Toone. Cousin Kinley Toone was also on the cast. Trevin was the conductor and constable while Kalen was on the band and kid in the town. Both said they had a fun time and hope to participate again next year.
During the summer Lisa transferred from work in the Emergency Room at McKay-Dee Hospital to Bear River Valley Hospital. She has now worked at both hospitals twice and is starting her third tour with BRVH. We also attended her 20-year high school reunion. Wow, how time flies.
I feel really blessed to have enjoyed another interesting year at the Deseret News.
A few years ago, I was assigned to write lengthy obituary-type articles about two apostles — Elder L. Tom Perry and Richard G. Scott — so in the event of their passing, we would have a nice tribute prepared to post online immediately. Fortunately I was prepared when both men died in 2015. Because our top LDS writer was unavailable the next day, I was offered the chance to do a one-on-one interview with Elder Scott’s son.
Both in April and October, I assisted in the Deseret News coverage of general conference. The big news in October was the calling of three new apostles (Ronald A. Rasband, Gary E. Stevenson and Dale G. Renlund). It was a thrill to be present when their names were announced in the Saturday afternoon session. Then my editors surprised me with the news that I would get to cover the press conference following the session. I sat on the second row, right behind the wives of the new apostles, as they answered question after question from reporter and endured all the flashing cameras. As they spoke, I could sense strength emanating from these humble men. It was awesome to watch church history unfold live right before my eyes.
I want to quickly mention three other memorable assignments.
First, the Joseph Smith Papers released copies of the printer’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon in August. Normally, I meet with volume editors (church historians) and they tell me about the interesting aspects of the project. But they called a press conference on this one, which seemed unusual. They wanted to highlight their collaboration with the Community of Christ, but the book also included first-time photos of a seer stone, which was a big deal. Church historian, Elder Steven E. Snow, conducted the press conference and I got to be there and do various interviews with him and others involved.
Second, that same month, I was sent to BYU to cover the unveiling of a painting by Greg Olsen, commissioned to go in the alumni center. It didn’t sound very interesting until they mentioned two apostles would be there. I was standing in the back of the room when Elders M. Russell Ballard and Neil L. Andersen walked in. They were kind of enough to pause and shake my hand. After the unveiling, I had a short interview with Olsen, a prominent LDS artist who has done scores of paintings of the Savior.
Third and finally, shortly before October conference, I was assigned to cover the reopening of the church history museum after a year of renovation. Elders Jeffrey R. Holland and Quentin L. Cook were there, with Elder Snow. After a pre-tour of the new museum, which was really cool, they had a little ribbon-cutting ceremony and Elder Holland said a few words. When he was finished, church PR people motioned for me and other media to come forward and ask a question or two of Elder Holland. I was caught off guard. My mind was blank. What could I ask that he hasn’t already addressed?
The AP writer went first while people crowded in all around us, wanting to meet them and shake hands. The PR people kindly tried to push them back. Other photographers and videographers were taking photos or had their cameras rolling. Add to that a line of high-ranking church history people standing next to Elder Holland, including Elder Cook, and this was high pressure for a guy like me. Suddenly it was my turn and I was standing in front of Elder Holland, a man I greatly admired and who I had previously met but he wouldn’t remember. I fumbled out an introduction of who I was and uttered some wimpy question about the new museum that I can’t even remember. It was so lame. He was kind and said something general, essentially repeating what he had already said but in a different way. Fortunately, I had heard him say something to the previous guy about his family, including grandkids, going through the museum. For my second question, I asked him to elaborate on their experience, which was something new. Later that day, my editor told me I should have asked about the church’s effort at historic transparency but it had slipped my mind. But I got through it. I think now whenever I walk through the entrance of the church history museum, I will look into that corner of the room and remember how unprepared I was to ask Elder Holland a few questions.
Not to bore you, but here are a few other noteworthy articles. Last January, I got to write the breaking news about our CEO Clark Gilbert being named the new president of BYU-Idaho. I got to do a feature on LDS author Gerald Lund and his daughter that was fun. Hearing how former Utah basketball player Craig Rydalch had battled his depression and anxiety was powerful. I was blessed to do in person interviews with Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo and humanitarian Bishnu Adhikari, both featured in “Meet the Mormons.” And there are many more if you want to see my list.